Top 10 Camp Skills Countdown – That Are Also Life Skills

Pioneer is a place that I’ve had the privilege of viewing through a variety of lenses: as a camper, a chalet leader, a section head, program director, and as an older cousin having watched his younger cousins have the time of their lives as campers summer after summer. I can say that camp is an amazing place that has taught me a great deal, but not just about God’s love but also how to portage a canoe and how to start a campfire with nothing but some steel wool and a 9-volt battery. Camp has taught me an onslaught of valuable life skills as well, that have made me a much more well-rounded person and a hirable employee.
So, here are the Top 10 camp skills that I believe to be real life skills as well.

Number 10: Leading Games

As a high-school teacher, I can’t express enough how much my time as a program director has helped me do my job better, I can lead a game almost anywhere, at any time!
I’ve led countless games in my Phys Ed. class that I came up with for camp, or learned at camp, which my students have loved, I’ve even played “Risk Takers” with my Business class to teach them about the stock market!
Explaining rules, setting up competitions and hyping up every activity is now wired into every game I lead.

Number 9: Small Talk & Customer Service

As a chalet leader at camp, you can experience as many as 9 opening days over the course of the summer where you will meet and converse with an average of 4 unique sets of parents each time, and in the span of about 20 minutes try to convince them that their child is in great hands for the next week.
It may take the average teenage leader a few weeks to slip into a rhythm of conversation, but by the end of the summer, you will be able to give a well-informed college lecture about traffic on the 400 North, and the weather in Barrie.

Number 8: Frisbee Skills

Endless frisbee at Boys Camp has prepared me for social and recreational life in Hamilton.  This one may be more specific to fellow “Hamiltonians”, but let me say, that Ultimate Frisbee is to Hamilton, what Football is to Dallas.
“Insanely competitive” would be putting it lightly to describe the frisbee scene in Hamilton, and many summers at camp with an equally frisbee centered athletics culture have prepared me greatly for living in Hamilton!

Number 7: Adaptability

No matter what capacity you’re serving in, camp will teach you to think on your feet.
There are so many unpredictable elements at camp that need an immediate response: weather is unpredictable, chalet dynamics are unpredictable…each day is unpredictable!
Camp is great for gaining experience in solving situational challenges on the fly – working together with other leaders to come up with instant solutions to challenging situations.

Number 6: First Aid & Caring for Others

For many jobs at camp, camp will certify you or re-certify you in lifeguarding and first-aid qualifications which certainly make you more hirable outside of camp as well!
Besides that, camp teaches you a great deal about comforting and caring for campers who are feeling sick, homesick, or even just a bit down.
I can say that the encouragement and love I received as a camper, and from my friends on staff has meant the world to me.

Number 5: How To… Sort Of… Fix Things

In attending a camp full of men gifted at breaking things and indifferent to aesthetics, you will receive a thorough education in constructional “band-aids”, half-fixes, and how to prioritize function over fashion.
Boys’ Camp will teach you how to be a great handy-man! (So long as you don’t mind being paid in eye-rolls and face palms)

Number 4: Enthusiasm! & Hyping up Literally Anything!

Camp has a theory called “trickle down hype-economics”(TDH) that is instilled into all of its staff members.  The theory is such that if a staff member is visibly excited about something, then that excitement will in turn “fire up” nearby campers, which will in turn, fire up others, and so on, and so forth.
I once witnessed a staff member successfully hype-up a CYOA (Choose Your Own Adventure) one afternoon that was “measuring the angle of the tree by Program Central”. TDH at its finest. Do you have an obscure idea?  Ask a camp person to hype it up!

Number 3: How to Lead

Take your pick: how to lead a chalet, how to lead a game, how to teach a skill or an activity, how to lead a discussion, how to encourage someone…
It is impossible to serve at camp, and leave having learned nothing about what it means to lead something. Leadership opportunities and lessons are everywhere!

Number 2: How to Serve & How to Work Hard

Even more importantly than being a leader, is learning to be a follower.
Not all work at camp is glamorous, but camp taught me to delight in that work nonetheless; to wash dishes, rake leaves, sweep floors, and carry 90 pound tables from the dining hall to the beach over and over again until your arms go numb… and then to carry another one.
Camp teaches you what it means to work hard and serve, even if there’s nothing in it for you.

Number 1: Reliance on God

For all of the joy involved with being at camp, there is no denying that camp can be exhausting.
Any staff who has worked a full summer at Pioneer knows the deep, immense fatigue that washes over you at times, and the question of “how do I keep going?”
It’s in those moments where you learn that God has your back, and that he can take the smallest scrap of energy you have left and multiply it.
Through God, we can do all things (Philippians 4:13)
And there you have it. Ten camp skills that are most certainly life skills as well. I can say with absolutely no exaggeration that I have some form of interaction based on my history of camp experience every single day. Put simply, camp has made me better. And it’s my profound hope and prayer that it will continue to do the same for you as well. God Bless!

-Bennett “Cypher” Chaffee

Bennett “Cypher” Chaffee is a Boys-Camp alumni, high school teacher, frisbee enthusiast and “uncle-to-be”. He is passionate about music, fitness, and coffee. After years of serving at camp in a variety of roles he is grateful for how God has used Pioneer Camp to shape his life and excited to share it with others.

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